President-elect Johnson delivers virtual convocation
Welcome week is in full swing as Ohio State resumes in-person classes
At the start of a new academic year, in the middle of a global pandemic, Ohio State University President-elect Kristina M. Johnson called on the newest members of the university community to rise to this new challenge.
Johnson delivered a virtual convocation to first-year students as in-person classes began on campus Tuesday for the first time since March. She acknowledged the changes and sacrifices these students will face as they start their academic career.
“We are asking you to physically distance, to wear a face mask and to take every other science-based measure to stop the spread of the virus so that we can give you that very special Ohio State experience, like keeping the Oval open and allowing those walks around Mirror Lake and, as soon as it is safe, participate in all the events that bring us together,” she said. “But no question, there are sacrifices attached to this moment, ways in which your first year in college or your first year here will be very different from your expectations and made more difficult by extraordinary circumstances.”
Johnson said she understands the frustration or concern some students might be feeling on campus this year. Johnson had Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a college student, and treatment of the illness slowed her academic progress for nearly a year.
“But the following summer I was able to return full time to my studies and research, and I’m so glad that I did not give up. In fact, I learned something really important from that experience: Accomplishments means so much more when you have to work extra hard for them and to overcome adversity to reach your goals like graduating from college,” she said.
Johnson said this class has an opportunity to do more than slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus. She said they could be the class who become a force for anti-racism, equal opportunity, confronting the challenge of climate change and upholding the highest ideals of American democracy.
She noted that Ohio State’s alma mater, “Carmen Ohio,” was written by first-year student Fred Cornell. The lyrics recognize a commitment to others that remains firm through both disappointment and triumph. She said it reinforces the university’s role as a land-grant institution determined to lead the way in education, scholarship, research and clinical care and as a community that consistently embraces people of every imaginable talent and background.
“As Buckeyes, we come together here with goodwill, excitement and a joy to make the world better. So stand together, firm in your own friendship, protect your community and stop the spread of the virus,” Johnson said. “Extend that friendship to every member of the Buckeye Nation. Stand up for what’s right and you will feel a sense of pride in the things you are able to accomplish. Even during the most challenging times, we have to lift up through our lives and our actions. I am already proud of you. Have a wonderful semester and go Buckeyes.”